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BACH Family: Chamber music
for two flutes
Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784)
Trio in D for two flutes and continuo, F.48 [10:03]
Trio in A minor for two flutes and continuo, F.49 [5:29] Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst BACH (1759-1845)
Trio in G for two flutes and viola [20:16] Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)
Trio in C for two flutes and bass, T.317/2 [10:20] Johann Christoph Friedrich BACH (1732-1795)
Trio in C for two flutes and harpsichord obbligato, HW VII/7 [15:35]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Trio in E for two flutes and continuo, Wq.580 [17:29]
Hansgeorg Schmeiser (flute); Jan Ostrı (flute); Eszter Haffner (viola);
Othmar Müller (cello); Ingomar Rainer (harpsichord)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, Wales, September 2008. DDD
NIMBUS NI 5869 [79:22]
Apart from violist Eszter Haffner, these are the same soloists
that featured on two previous releases by Nimbus of flute trios
and sonatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. These were reviewed on
MusicWeb International here
Apart from being a general indication of these musicians' familiarity
with the repertoire, this also means that the six 18th century
trios played here are performed on modern flutes - something
that may or may not appeal to the potential buyer.
The CD booklet is informative when it comes to biographies of
the performers but disappointingly fails to provide any information
beyond the track-listing on any of these trios. Dates of composition
or publication, for example, would have been an important aid
to the listener for slotting works into some kind of historical
context. As the trios by W.F.E. and J.C. Bach are not listed
in New Grove, any information regarding their authenticity
or origin would be very welcome. In fact, the New Grove
article on W.F.E. states that "Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
[...] was almost certainly also the composer of the strongly
contrapuntal Trio in G major for two flutes and viola, published
as W.F.E. Bachs by Rudolf Ermeler." Surely Nimbus should
have something to say on this in their notes?
The works listed as being by Wilhelm Friedemann date from around
1740, two of a group of three trios. There is no question that
W.F. was a highly original composer, even if much of his music
was dispersed or lost when penury in old age forced him to auction
off his estate - a number of his father's works included. The
Trio in D is imaginative and sunny; the more reflective
single-movement Trio in A minor is presumably the survivor
from an originally longer work - again, the liner-notes ought
to explain this.
Whether or not the Trio in C for two flutes and bass
- shared between harpsichord and cello here - is J.C. Bach's
handiwork, it certainly bears his stamp of quality; though short,
it is a thoughtful, thoroughly beautiful work. The Trio in
E by C.P.E. Bach also exists as a flute sonata. There are
two main thematic catalogues of C.P.E.'s works, the older, probably
more familiar one by Wotquenne, and the one published in 1989
by Helm. According to New Grove, C.P.E.'s Trio in E,
listed as Wq.580 on this disc, is actually H.580 - or Wq.162.
In any case, the work dates from 1749, well into C.P.E.'s Berlin
years with the 'flute king', Friedrich II. Again, this is an
outstanding work of art, marvellously mellifluous and contemplative,
with a sparkling finale.
J.C.F. Bach is often know as the "Bückeburg Bach",
although his son, W.F.E., has a greater claim to the title,
having been born in Bückeburg. J.C.F.'s Trio in C, dating
from the period 1770-80,was originally the fifth of
a set of six trio sonatas, for keyboard, viola and flute or
violin, three of which are lost. J.C.F.'s music often, and here,
sounds like a stylish cross between that of his brother J.C.
and half-brother C.P.E. As befits a fine keyboard-experimentalist,
J.C.F.'s Trio accords the harpsichord a more prominent role,
giving this work above any others on the CD the feel of a true
trio. In this work at least J.C.F. is the equal of more illustrious
W.F.E. was probably not as great a composer as his father, although
so much of his work has been lost that it is not easy to tell.
His - or more likely W.F.'s - Trio in G for two flutes and
viola is in four movements. The viola is in this case at
times quite difficult to hear, set back as it is from the two
flutes, whose general high pitch tends to white out the rich
middle tones of the viola. If this really is W.F.E.'s work,
he is inexplicably writing in the style of the generation before
- this is still clearly a Baroque piece, much more likely the
work of an old W.F. than a very young W.F.E., whose earliest
dated work is from 1788 and who, by the beginning of the 19th
century, was already adopting the language of early Romanticism.
Again, a fine, profound work.
An essay by harpsichordist Ingomar Rainer gives some background
to the featured composers and the Bach family in general, but
nothing referring to the recorded works in particular. Rainer's
essay has been marred in translation from its original German
by the kind of linguistic incompetence all too common in liner-notes.
The translator - a company name is given - clearly has little
idea what exactly the text is about. Quite why a concern of
the stature of Nimbus does not bother to proof-read the texts
of its own CD booklets is anyone's guess. But this is the kind
of nonsense poor editing lets in: "But then it [the music]
also has real intellectual fun glorying in the light-and-shade
Freidemann"; or "Emanuel (of Hamburg) [is a master]
of the drab and grey" - this latter phrase a ludicrous,
sense-twisting rendering of "[der] Grau in Grau" (literally
"the grey in grey"); as well as translating the German
city of Halle into "Hall". There are many such examples.
Recorded at Nimbus's reliable Wyastone Leys facilities, sound
quality on this disc is admirable throughout, and, with the
exception mentioned above, instrumentalists nicely balanced.
This is seventy-nine minutes of 24-carat music. It is very ably
performed by an experienced team of soloists - and in Schmeiser's
case played fittingly on a 24-carat gold instrument!
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